After months of preparation for the newborn’s arrival home, new parents want nothing more than for their four-legged family member to welcome and accept the newest addition to the family. It is every dog owner's dream, as most fear nothing more than the pair not getting along, sometimes even resulting in some families being forced to give up their canine companion. Having that in mind, it is only understandable that many owners put their furballs under a telescope during the introduction. But what does it mean if a dog reacts to the tiny newcomer by sitting on him or her and is it a good sign?
The Root of the Behavior
As with most relatively unusual canine behaviors, there can be a variety of different reasons a dog might sit on a baby. The key to understanding the behavior lies in observing and identifying the other context clues when it occurs. If your furball has a good relationship with your baby, it is possible that the dog sits on the infant out of pure affection. Most dogs love to be close to their human pack members and cuddle them to show their appreciation, as well as to get some petting. Certain breeds are more affectionate than others and simply love the connection they feel when they are so close to their human family. Bulldogs, Beagles, Newfoundlands, and Great Danes are all known to be very affectionate breeds that love hanging out and bonding with the younger members of the family.
On the other hand, certain dogs might not be as happy about a new addition to the family and experience some jealousy over all the attention the baby is getting. In these cases, they will instead occasionally try to dominate the baby. Some of them accomplish this by sitting on the child as a way to show superiority and position themselves higher in the pack hierarchy. If your dog is asserting his dominance, it is possible that there are no clear boundaries in the household or that the new addition has confused him. It is also possible that your pooch isn’t getting as much attention as he would like to or he is not prepared for the new living arrangements. In this case, it is best to consult a dog trainer for professional support and try to spend more time with your canine buddy during this transitional period so that he does not feel left out or replaced.
Another common reason dogs sit on babies is to protect them. This might sound strange but some canines try to achieve this by physically covering the baby with their body as a way to guard him or her. The furry friends might also rub their own scent onto the baby to make sure all the other dogs in the neighborhood know this baby is under their protection.
Encouraging the Behavior
Whether you should let your canine family member sit on your baby will highly depend on several factors; such as the circumstances in which it happens, the relationship between the two, other behavioral signs and the dog’s breed. If you are certain that your dog loves your baby and sits on him or her as a way to show his affection or protection, have no trust or behavioral concerns when it comes to your furry friend, as well as know that his size and weight won’t harm your baby - then at your own discretion you can allow for occasional closeness.
However, the behavior should not be encouraged or allowed if the dog shows any possessive or aggressive traits. This could, for example, include growling or barking at anyone coming close towards the baby, including the mother. Showing teeth or even biting is unacceptable and could lead to an even more problematic behavior in the future. Do not let your dog get overly protective or obsessive about your child as it could put him or her in danger. If you observe any type of concerning behavior, separate the two and make sure to consult a professional dog trainer for support in the situation.
Most importantly, if you do decide to let your dog sit on your baby, make sure it is an occasional occurrence and not a constantly recurring behavior. If your pooch occasionally plummets by your child or sits on him, there is no reason to be alarmed. If your dog seems obsessive about being around him or her at all times and doesn’t allow others to be, do contact a dog trainer about it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Though most dogs sit on babies to show affection, dominate, or protect them, there are also other reasons your canine companion might want to sit on or by your baby. Boredom and the desire for companionship can be behind the peculiar behavior as some dogs just do it for fun or to strengthen the bond with their human family member. Another reason for the unusual cuddles might be the canine’s want for warmth, especially if the dog is short-haired and of a small breed. Sitting on a baby can bring many dogs comfort and keep them warm, as well as be an instinctive habit from their puppyhood. Since dogs are born into liters it is natural for them to want to be close with other members of their pack.
Dogs need consistency and a clear framework of how things operate around the household. A new family member, whether it is a baby or a dog sibling, can throw the dynamic off and confuse our canine companions. To ensure a smooth transition and a healthy living arrangement, do your research, prepare the remaining family members as soon as it is possible, and reach out for professional help when you need it.